PREPARED PATIENT BLOG

Patients and experts explore what it takes to find good health care and make the most of it.

Harriet A. Hall, MD, is a retired family physician, author and former Air Force flight surgeon who writes about medicine, complementary and alternative medicine, science, quackery, and critical thinking. She is an editor and one of the 5 MD founders of the Science-Based Medicine blog, where this post originally appeared. She is also a contributing editor to Skeptic magazine and Skeptical Inquirer, and a medical advisor and author of articles on the website Quackwatch.com. More information on Dr. Hall here.


True Informed Consent Is Elusive

Harriet Hall | November 26, 2012
Most of us would agree that doctors should not treat patients without their consent, except in special cases like emergency care for an unconscious patient. It’s not enough for doctors to ask “Is it OK with you if I do this?”

How to Choose a Doctor

Harriet Hall | March 23, 2012
I get a lot of inquiries about how to find a good doctor. I don't have a good answer. I thought it might be useful to throw out some ideas that have occurred to me and hope that readers will have better ideas and will share their experiences about what has or hasn't worked.

The Cognitive Traps We All Fall Into

Harriet Hall | May 26, 2011
In my recent review of Peter Palmieri's book Suffer the Children I said I would later try to cover some of the many other important issues he brings up. One of the themes in the book is the process of critical thinking and the various cognitive traps doctors fall into. I will address some of them here. This is not meant to be systematic or comprehensive, but rather a miscellany of things to think about. Some of these overlap.

Guest Blog: The Role of Experience in Science-Based Medicine

Harriet Hall | April 21, 2011
Before we had EBM (evidence-based medicine) we had another kind of EBM: experience-based medicine. Mark Crislip has said that the three most dangerous words in medicine are 'In my experience.' I agree wholeheartedly.

Guest Blog: Overdiagnosis

Harriet Hall | February 3, 2011
Dr. H. Gilbert Welch has written a new book Over-diagnosed: Making People Sick in the Pursuit of Health, with co-authors Lisa Schwartz and Steven Woloshin. It identifies a serious problem, debunks medical misconceptions and contains words of wisdom. We are healthier, but we are increasingly being told we are sick. We are labeled with diagnoses that may not mean anything to our health. People used to go to the doctor when they were sick, and diagnoses were based on symptoms. Today diagnoses are increasingly made on the basis of detected abnormalities in people who have no symptoms and might never have developed them.